2007 Research Fair - Anthropology Abstracts
Constructing Theory: Prehistory Migration in the New World
Anthropology students studying human evolution and archeology will present different theories about prehistoric migration to the New World. Linguistic, archeological, and biology evidence will be exhibited which support some of these theories better than others.
Opportunistic Learners: Exploring the Continuum of Orangutan Learning
This paper compares solitary, wild orangutans with a recently discovered wild, social group of orangutans. Because the social group shows cultural traits that are lacking in wild orangutans, it dispels the myth that wild orangutans are slow-witted and lazy. Observations made of a third group of orangutans, those raised in captivity but returned to the wild, show that even orangutans who would normally be solitary are social learners when given the opportunity to do so and this opportunistic learning explains why captive orangutans have always been such proficient tool users. Through capitalizing on the opportunity to learn from human keepers, captive orangutans master tool use and human language, making them seem smarter than their solitary fellows. Thus, a continuum can be formed: from wild, solitary orangutans to captive, social . However, it is not a continuum of intelligence, but one of opportunity.